|Publication number||US7725233 B2|
|Application number||US 11/258,574|
|Publication date||May 25, 2010|
|Filing date||Oct 25, 2005|
|Priority date||Oct 25, 2005|
|Also published as||CA2624652A1, CA2624652C, CN101292572A, CN101292572B, EP1943877A2, EP1943877A4, EP1943877B1, US20070089390, WO2007050192A2, WO2007050192A3|
|Publication number||11258574, 258574, US 7725233 B2, US 7725233B2, US-B2-7725233, US7725233 B2, US7725233B2|
|Inventors||Larry Lee Hendrickson, Terence Daniel Pickett, Stephen Michael Faivre|
|Original Assignee||Deere & Company|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (19), Non-Patent Citations (3), Referenced by (11), Classifications (21), Legal Events (2)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
The present invention relates generally to intelligent crop harvesting and, more specifically, to guidance assistance for a crop harvester or similar implement based on one or more crop attributes.
Most current methods for harvesting crops involve simple pass to pass steps without opportunity to efficiently separate crop according to crop attributes level to optimize market price potential and profitability. Although on-board crop monitors are becoming available for sampling harvested grain from point grain samples and estimating overall attribute levels of a harvested crop, most provide range or variance information of batches of harvested crop in the storage area without segregation of the crop according to attributes. Also, automatic sampling systems generally lack a good method for deciding areas wherein samples are to be taken.
Various attempts have been made for segregating crop based on attribute levels, including use of field topology such as slope, elevation and contour to divide fields of crop into zones. Dividing soybean fields into areas that correlate to protein levels has been proposed. For example, beans growing on knolls often mature weeks before those in the rest of the field, so farmers will go into the fields and selectively harvest the mature beans. Most crop segregation methods have been based on the visual perception of field and crop conditions by the harvester operator and a subjective view of potential value.
Prior evaluation of the level of attribute desired in a previous harvest is often ineffective for determining attribute zones in a present crop since there are numerous variables that affect crop attributes. Heretofore, there has not been an entirely satisfactory method for locating boundaries of areas of desired attributes and providing information in an effective and user-friendly manner to assist an operator in the harvest and segregation of the crop or to provide input to an automated harvester guidance system for that purpose.
Various methods have been proposed for guiding a vehicle, including selection of a work path based upon geographic factors of the area being traversed to minimize energy usage. Such a method is shown, for example, in U.S. Pat. No. 6,728,607. Other work path planning methods for such functions as optimizing travel routes, minimizing work times, optimizing unloading operations of harvesters and the like, are exemplified in U.S. Pat. No. 6,128,574. However, a reliable and user friendly method for establishing a mission plan to assist in crop segregation by attribute is required.
A method for segregating crops at the point of harvest including the step of operating a diverter on the basis of machine position and a map of harvesting instructions is shown in U.S. Pat. No. 5,957,304. Such diverter methods generally limit the number of segregated batches to the number of storage areas or bins provided at the harvester. Segregating crop by attribute into a number of batches greater than the number of storage areas presents difficulties. Segregating crops into a plurality of batches or loads and providing a convenient and reliable measurement of the mean and variance of the attributes of a batch or load of harvested crop have also been continuing sources of difficulty.
It is therefore an object of the invention to provide an improved method for segregating harvested crop according to crop attributes. It is a further object to provide such a method which overcomes most or all of the aforementioned problems.
It is another object of the invention to provide an improved method for establishing crop attribute maps and using the maps for segregating harvested crop according to attributes. It is a further object to provide an improved method for establishing absolute values of the mean and variance for a load of crop sufficiently accurate to meet at least most marketing and end user requirements.
In accordance with aspects of the present invention, site specific information related to one or more attributes of the crop is utilized to provide an attribute map of estimated crop attribute level. The harvester is then controlled utilizing the attribute map to segregate harvested crop during harvesting according to the estimated crop attribute level. In one embodiment, a preferred steering path based on the attribute map is generated, and the harvester is steered either manually or automatically according to the preferred steering path. Using such a mission plan approach facilitates segregation of crop into a plurality of batches or loads according to crop attribute. In another embodiment, crop can be directed to one of two or more storage areas associated with the harvester, with the storage area selected dependent on the estimated crop attribute level. By using diverting in combination with a mission plan, the crop can be divided by attribute into a number of batches or loads with the number not limited by the number of storage areas at the harvester.
The site specific information may include such things as elevation, a multi-spectral image of the field, previous or estimated crop yield, and environmental conditions. Zones of similar site specific characteristics may be determined for generating sampling points within generally homogenous areas of the zones. The sampling points are labeled according to GPS location and are utilized to help create estimated crop attributes maps. The attribute maps may then be utilized for mission planning to determine a preferred harvesting path that minimizes attribute variability during harvesting while minimizing harvest time for the desired range of crop attribute variability. An accurate mean and/or variance for the segregated harvested crop is established to meet marketing and end user needs. In one embodiment, a sampler located on the harvester or storage area is used to provide absolute crop attribute values and variability of the attribute within a load of harvested crop.
These and other objects, features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the description below in view of the drawings.
The field to be harvested is divided into zones with similar crop attributes (
As shown by way of example in
In step 81 of
where NIR is the NIR level from the bands of the image and red is the red level. The values range from −1 to 1, and dividing the index into zones involves dividing the calculated values into ranges. For example, areas between −1 and −0.9 might be one zone, areas between −0.9 to −0.8 another zone, and areas between −0.8 and −0.7 a third zone and so forth.
The zones obtained in step 81 indicate that there is a difference in the attribute of interest across the zones, but do not attach an absolute value to the level of the attribute. During the next step 82 several points 54 are chosen within the identified zones 61-65 indicating where directed crop samples are to be taken. As a further enhancement of this step, the points are identified as close to the edge of the field as possible to avoid excessive travel over the field. A further enhancement is selection of sampling points 54 such that the abruptness of the transition from zone to zone is minimized. Sampling points are selected to minimize abruptness by isolating pixels that are within transition zones determined by calculating a slope of a zone:
slope=change in zones/change in distance
and then excluding these pixels from consideration as sampling points. A subsequent step is to identify pixels that are within homogeneous clumps of similar zone classes. At the same time, the distance of sampling locations to the edge of the field is minimized.
In some cases, there will be a two or three zone jump between pixels in the transition zones (
In the third step 83 (
In step 84, the crop samples taken in the step 83 are analyzed by conventional analytical tools 108 to assign absolute values of the attribute of interest to the samples. Samples can be sent to a lab for analysis and the test result associated with the location from which it was taken. Alternatively, a handheld analysis device or other device operable in the field during the step 83 can provide the necessary data.
Although the estimated mean and variance for a load from each of the areas 72A-72D can be calculated from the distribution of the yield that makes up the load, such an estimation may not be sufficiently accurate to meet marketing needs and end user requirements. In another embodiment, the harvester 10 can include an automatic grain stream sampler 114 at the storage area 22. Grain is selectively channeled into a sampling device and a sample directed to a bar-coded container or other structure 116 for providing an absolute value of crop attribute for the load and/or provide an accurate estimate of the variability of the crop attribute. In addition, similar approaches could be used to obtain a sub-sample of grain entering or leaving the storage area so that grain quality can be estimated for grain hauled in trucks or the like. An NIR device can provide an immediate estimate to assist the operators in decisions about which grain hauling device or compartment 24 should be used based upon anticipated relationships between spectral characteristics and the desired crop attributes. For example, a crop may be segregated according whether the protein level is within a high, medium or low range. Sampling locations during harvest can be selected manually or automatically based upon the points 54 of the map of
In step 85, analytical results 109 obtained in step 84 and the locations from which the corresponding samples were taken are input to the processing system on which the information layers for the field are already stored. This data is used to make an estimated attribute map 70 in step 85. Measured values of the attribute are associated to the underlying pixel values in each of the layers. The resultant array is evaluated using a statistical procedure such as multiple linear regression. The resultant regression equation is then applied to the original image layer or layers to estimate the attribute value for all pixels, resulting in an estimated attribute map with the same resolution as the original data layer or layers.
During step 86 the attribute map developed in the step 85 is used to develop a mission plan that indicates how to subdivide the field into areas that are relatively homogeneous with respect to the attribute of interest. How the mission plan is developed depends on crop and how the harvester travels through the crop. If the crop is wheat, nearly any path can be followed. If the crop is a row crop such as corn, the harvester must travel in a direction parallel to the direction of the rows to avoid loss of grain. The mission plan can be input into the automatic steering system 32 and the vehicle will maneuver itself to the different areas of the field. Alternatively, the mission plan can be implemented by displaying the attribute map in the cab of the harvester and allowing the operator to make decisions about how to navigate.
Mission planning as described above can also be used where the harvested crop is immediately discharged from the harvester. Examples include hay bales, cotton bales or containerized systems, and the harvester 10 is steered according to the mission plan to minimize variability within each bale or container. Such mission planning for bales and containers is especially useful where the bales or containers contain crop from a relatively large acreage. An RFID or other labeling system can provide harvested position and crop attribute information for the bale or container, but the further use of the mission plan reduces the variability of the crop attribute for each bale or container.
In another embodiment, crop can be directed to one of two or more storage compartments associated with the harvester, with the storage area selected dependent on the estimated crop attribute level. By way of example, the storage compartments can be two or more bins or chambers 22 a and 22 b at the storage area 22 or two or more receptacles or areas 24 a and 24 b of the crop hauling device 24. By using diverting in combination with a mission plan, the crop can be divided by attribute with less variation into a number of batches or loads with the number not limited by the number of storage areas at the harvester.
If there is a relatively narrow zone of crop with a differing attribute, such as shown at 120 in
Having described the preferred embodiment, it will become apparent that various modifications can be made without departing from the scope of the invention as defined in the accompanying claims.
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|U.S. Classification||701/50, 56/10.5, 340/995.27, 340/995.22, 56/10.8, 56/10.20H, 340/995.24, 180/401, 340/990, 701/23, 56/10.20D, 340/995.14, 340/995.19, 340/995.12|
|Cooperative Classification||A01B69/008, A01D91/00, A01B79/005|
|European Classification||A01D91/00, A01B69/00F1, A01B79/00P|
|Feb 13, 2006||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: DEERE & COMPANY,ILLINOIS
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:HENDRICKSON, LARRY LEE;PICKETT, TERENCE DANIEL;FAIVRE, STEPHEN MICHAEL;SIGNING DATES FROM 20060130 TO 20060208;REEL/FRAME:017559/0004
|Nov 25, 2013||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 4